Considerations for Measuring Contraceptive Use and Unmet Need Among Unmarried Women

Madeleine Fabic , U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
Apoorva Jadhav, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

Historically, the family planning (FP) practices and needs of married women have been monitored and reported in a relatively uniform way across time and place. The same, however, does not hold true for the monitoring and reporting of FP practices and needs among unmarried women: both never-married and formerly-married. Specifically, contraceptive prevalence rates among unmarried women are reported in different ways across key data and information platforms, including the Demographic and Health Surveys Program, the Guttmacher Institute, and the World Health Organization. These contraceptive prevalence rate differentials, in turn, yield unmet need for FP differentials. We examine how differing measurement approaches yield differing estimates of key FP indicators – modern contraceptive prevalence and unmet need – among unmarried women. Recommendations follow, with the recognition that common and explicit measurement and reporting approaches enhance our understanding of FP behaviors, needs, and experiences of this key demographic group.

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 Presented in Session 170. Measurement Approaches and Innovations in Family Planning